Debi Craig was honored at the United Church on Sunday, December 11th for her 40 years of service as Director of Music. She was hired in 1976 when she was in her junior year at the College of St. Rose. Debi has coordinated various musical programs at the church including the choir, the United Church Ringers, a 10 member handbell choir, junior handbell choir and a recorder group. During her 40 year tenure at the United Church, Debi has been an elementary vocal music teacher in Whitehall, Cambridge, and Saratoga Springs.
The church has remained a constant. Debi says, “People who have never belonged to musical groups like ours do not understand the support system that they provide for each other” Her groups have not only made beautiful music together, but have also shared laughter, joy, sorrow, loss, “therapy”, cat stories, kid stories and numerous other milestones in each other’s lives. This has been an especially difficult year for her groups. Long-time choir member and handbell ringer Helen Ruddock passed away in June. Debi said, “It has been very difficult for us to lose a dear friend and fellow musician,” but she says, “The incredible thing is that in the 40 years that I have been at the church, Helen is the first to pass away in any of my performing groups at the church and that in itself is amazing.”
In addition to her work at the United Church, Debi volunteers for a number of organizations. She is president of the NorthStar Historical Project, is the Vice-President of the Washington County Historical Society, is a member of the Greenwich-Easton Historical Association, and Hebron Preservation Society. She coordinates the Holiday and Fourth of July Community Sings at the East Hebron Presbyterian Church.She also helps with Operation Santa at Salem Central School. This year to help raise money for the program, she made and sold around 250 Guardian Angel bracelets. All proceeds from the sale of the bracelets will go to the school to help needy families in the Salem area. Church member Barbara Skiff said, “When Debi sees a need, she does her best to fill that need.”
Debi is very excited to be starting a new project in the near future. She has received permission to start a community handbell choir at the Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Easton. It will be open to anyone in the area who would like to ring handbells. Since she retired in 2012, she has retained two performing groups at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School in Saratoga Springs. She has a 33 member hand chime choir comprised of fourth and fifth grade students and also has a Puppet Club which puts on two performances a year. The group just performed “Puss in Boots” this week.
At this morning’s service, she was given a lovely bouquet of flowers. A donation in her honor will be made to scholarships in memory of her parents at Salem Central (mother, music education) and Granville Central (father, history) Schools. She told the United Church congregation this morning that she hopes to be directing the choirs for forty more years!